Day 25, Thursday, September 19, 2019
As we walked to the metro this morning, the interior of this car caught my eye! These workers are laying paving bricks for a huge plaza. We have not seen poured cement sidewalks or plazas here, they are all made with paving stones. It seems very labour intensive. The Gemäldegalerie is our first stop today. This museum is near the Berlin Zoo and has one of the world’s leading collections of European paintings from the 13th to the 18th century. The quality of the artwork here is amazing. This is the first painting we see, part of an altar from 1437 telling the story of Jesus on the left, and Mary on the right. The white ‘baseboard’ in the photo comes almost mid-thigh on me, to give you an idea of the scale of the works. The corner of one painting from 1444 shows two pregnant women, notice the babies depicted on their stomachs. I had never seen this symbolism before. We both liked the Fountain of Youth by Lucas Cranach, 1546. This is not the style of his work that I am familiar with… this is! I have always wondered at this artist’s creativity. Wow!! This painting by Rogier van Der Weyen from 1440 is my absolute favourite of everything we have seen so far this trip. I absolutely love it and wish that the photo was able to convey the impact it has in person. I would have bought a print but it was almost $100 and I worried about getting it home safely. This is a painting I could live with forever.
There are so many interesting portraits here that I have never seen before. Can you tell that I am drawn to portraiture?These two tomb figures, 510, were very endearing.
I am fond of Frans Hals portraits and there was a whole room of them. This artist must like them too. What a tough way to work though, on a little stool, holding such a large drawing board. I assume the museum does not allow easels. I am excited to see this Vermeer from across the room, but then.. I notice The Girl with the Pearl Earring. I had no idea the this painting was in this museum. What a lovely surprise. Anna Dorothea Therbusch, 1721-1782, is one of the few women artists who actually made a living as an artist. This is a self portrait. There are Caravaggio’s here…and Georges de la Tours…
including this Botticellis Venus.And there are Rembrandts, including these two famous self portraits. I finally get to see these two tondos in person, the one on the left by Raffael (34″ diameter) and the one on the right by Botticelli (54″ diameter). I particularly like the Botticelli, his Madonnas are always so beautiful. This was fun! I am so glad we visited the Gemäldegalerie, it was quite amazing.After a picnic lunch we check out the Kunstgwerbe Museum nearby. I would love to have this beautiful geometry set from the 16th century. This museum has lots of porcelain, furniture and church treasures, but we walk by all these. It is just too much to absorb. A few items did catch our eye though. This is an elaborate portable kitchen from 1807, maybe used for camping? All the info is in German, so not sure. These glazed porcelain figurines were part of a group of 15 that were awarded a gold medal at the 1900 International Exhibition in Paris. There was also an exhibit on Afro Hair, with some very different displays. And finally, an interesting walk through women fashions through the ages.
Across the street we stop to see the Berlin Library. It is enormous! Probably the biggest I have ever visited. It was tough to get in though. Without a library card I had to get a special pass, and no one is allowed to carry a purse or backpack or other bag. So everyone puts their stuff in clear plastic bags! I don’t see the point of that all. So different from home. Oh and do you notice the card catalogues in the bottom photo? I was surprised to see them. Whew! and we aren’t finished yet. We catch a bus back across town to visit the oldest church in Berlin but the interior has been updated so much. It wasn’t what we were expecting, but still interesting. For some reason there was a rooster crowing inside the church? No idea what that was about.We split up, Bob heads to the Bode Museum and I catch the metro to go life drawing. I pass this post with just a few posters wrapped around it on my way to drawing.
Here are my drawings from tonight. The first page is two minute poses and the times of the other poses are written on the pages. This was a pretty full day!